Nature Thought for February: Talking with Deer

by Mark Catlin

I live in a suburban neighborhood, and like many such neighborhoods there are a host of deer that hang out eating from the shrubs around houses and the plants from backyards. The deer in our neighborhood are currently moving in two distinct groups. There is a herd of seven or eight does and a smaller group of three to four bucks.


Nearly every morning I try to get up just before sunrise and go to the wooded gullies in which they have secreted themselves. When darkness goes away, they are not comfortable hanging out in people’s yards. In this eery half light, I look for the shapes, standing or lying down, and the slight movement – the flick of a white tail or the nod of a head that give them away.

Deer are very curious creatures. If they do not feel threatened, they will sometimes investigate things that are out of the ordinary. A number of times when I have discovered them, I stand still and make a clicking sound with my tongue. Standing in the half light so that I am just a silhouette on the road side is sometimes too much for a few of them and they actually walk toward me. The other day, one doe came within fifteen feet of me. They come to me I think, because they don’t understand how some motionless upright blob (my silhouette) can make that funny noise.



A couple of the ways they seem to communicate with each other is by nodding their heads and gently stamping their hooves. Sometimes when I spot them in the clear daylight of later morning or afternoon, I’ll stop and bob my head at them or gently stamp my foot. I have had several respond in like fashion.

For me, deer are some of the dearest creatures in the woods. I love to find and talk with them in different ways. There are many deer at Crystal Lake Camps, although they are more timid because they are country deer and not city deer. However, if you are patient and quiet when you walk or stand in the woods at camp, chances are good that you will see one.

One summer I was quietly walking down the road, and right near the entrance to the high ropes course, a beautiful spotted fawn bounded across the road in front of me and into the woods of the course. The little fellow did not let me talk with him but I understand. We were both startled and did not have a chance to introduce ourselves to each other.

When you come to camp this summer take time to walk quietly in the woods, introduce yourself to some deer, and have a nice talk with them.

If you are at camp first session (late June early July) also take time to stop and smell the gorgeous white and pink flowers of the ubiquitous mountain laurel.


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